Let There Be No Compulsion in Religion…

As I continue reading the Koran, I’ve come now to another oft-quoted verse:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Truth has been made clear from error.  Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks.  And God hears and knows all things.” (Quran 2:256)

When I read this, I let out a deep breath. I liked this. A lot.  Let there be no compulsion in religion. I repeated those words to myself several times. But then, thoughts started running around in my head.

English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...

English: Religious symbols from the top nine organised faiths of the world according to Major world religions From left to right: 1st Row: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David, Hindu Aumkar 2nd Row: Islamic Star and crescent, Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, Shinto Torii 3rd Row: Sikh Khanda, Bahá’í star, Jain Ahimsa Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No compulsion? Doesn’t every religion have compulsory practices? Muslims are instructed to pray at least five times a day. Latter-Day Saints are required to pay ten percent of their income if they want to attend the temple, and Catholics are expected to fast, to pray, to attend mass on holy days.

And what of the restrictions? In some religious denominations, dancing is sinful. Others demand abstinence from tobacco and alcohol.  Some churches even step into the bedroom and demand that true believers shun any contraceptives.

Excuse me, but aren’t all of these rules a form of compulsion? Over and over, I heard people talking about free will, but it doesn’t seem so free to me. We have the right to make our own choices, but it always comes down to this:

  • Follow all the rules and go to heaven
  • Forget the rules and go to hell

Well, yes, that is a choice, but if the only way to heaven is to follow the rules, isn’t that the same thing as being compelled?

No one can force us to believe, I’m told. Not in Allah, not in God, not in any Supreme Being.  No compulsion there. Fine.

But, woe under those who choose to believe, because then, despite all the talk of free will and personal agency, it’s their way…or that highway to hell. Take your pick.


Highway to Hell – AC/DC


4 thoughts on “Let There Be No Compulsion in Religion…

  1. Religion is such a touchy subject. As an Adult I decided to never again attend a church that insists that they are the only ones that know the whole truth and their way is the only way. We are not all the same and I assume that is for a very good reason. How can our spiritual needs be exactly the same?

    • I definitely agree. Our individuality is something to celebrate in all things, and especially as part of our spiritual beliefs and practices. Every snowflake is different, you know, and no two people share the same fingerprint. Sort of suggests to me that the creator loves and respects diversity.

  2. I like how you compare religions but somewhat talk about them as deriving from one source. I noticed that you have a wide array of religious texts in your categories, I haven’t quite had a proper browse of your blog so apologies if you have to repeat yourself, but what is your take on religion, or is that too broad of a question? What is it that you believe? (point me in the direction of the post if its already out there lol)

    • I wrote a reply to this, but it appears to have gotten lost. To keep it short and simple, I believe in a loving creator, I believe all things are interconnected, and I believe we each have a spiritual path to follow. I’m exploring and redefining my beliefs each day. Your question made me stop to think. Thank you.

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